Local First’s Board of Directors held a town hall-style event with member businesses on Friday, June 12 to discuss the role West Michigan’s local economy plays in systemic racism: as an enabler and as a catalyst for change. Vice-Chair of the Local First Educational Foundation and moderator, Tarence Lauchie of T. Lauchie & Associates, asked participants to think about their:
- And impact.
Lauchie explained, “we must be intentional about wanting to see change. We must use our influence to actualize change. And we must target our energy toward impact on all levels including socially, physically, and financially.” Lauchie believes that “the success and sustainability of local businesses here in West Michigan will be based on equity and change.”
Tarence Lauchie was joined by the following panelists:
Hanna Schulze, Local First’s Interim Executive Director explained that “economic empowerment is one of the ways in which we can make real change… and build capital and social wealth within communities.” She further described that each one of us can “use [our] financial ability to support businesses within your community. When we leave business owners of color out of the economic envelope… we lose out on so much positive impact that our Black community and Hispanic community can create. We each have the opportunity to create our strategy for impact.”
Dialogue from panelists and participants alike ranged from individual responsibility to corporate participation. The following articles, videos, and questions were shared as ways to engage further:
- Diversity Still Matters
- Diversity wins: How inclusion matters
- Reporter’s Notebook: Grand Rapids, this is us
- The Difference Between Being ‘Not Racist’ and ‘Anti-Racist’
- How Grand Rapids small business owners reopen amid racial strife and COVID-19
- Economic lifespan of a dollar: Maggie Anderson at TEDxBaltimore 2014
- Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Matter
How can I expand and diversify the content that I consume? What does it look like for me to invest in the accounts/outlets that help to educate me about racism?
- How can I amplify the voices of people of color around me?
- Who sits at my table? Can I broaden the scope of the people whose lives I invest in?
- How can I use my financial resources to support businesses owned by people of color? Have I searched GRABB’s directory or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to diversify the businesses I support?
- When partnering with a business owner of color, can you approach the partnership first with these questions: What do you need? How can my business be of service?
- How can I use my position of privilege to connect owners of color with others in the community (as it aligns with their personal and professional goals)?
- What does it look like for me to hold myself accountable and my workplace accountable to racial equity?
- What am I prepared to do to see change in my individual life and in the systems that I participate in?
- DisCourse by DisArt
- Out on the Lakeshore
- Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance
- The Source
- Grand Rapids Pride Center
*Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
The Local First Board of Directors and Staff would like to thank those who tuned in and participated in this discussion. Local First understands this dialogue is merely a beginning and will continue to navigate its specific role in building wealth, social capital, and encouraging a joyful community as it pertains to racial justice and equity. It's important to recognize that we are all at a different point in our anti-racism journey. Some of us have just started and some of us have been talking about this with our families for generations. If you have further questions, please contact the Local First team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below you can read through Local First’s statement published on June 1, 2020 in response to the recent injustices, protests, and riots.